back to article Halt don't catch fire: Amazon recalls hundreds of thousands of Ring doorbells over exploding battery fears

Amazon’s home security brand Ring is recalling roughly 360,000 of its Wi-Fi enabled video doorbells over concerns they may catch fire when incorrectly installed. The recall affects Ring’s second-generation video doorbell, with the defect appearing on units sold in the US and Canada between June and October of this year with …

  1. lglethal Silver badge
    Trollface

    "It’s not clear what those who have already incorrectly installed their doorbells should do."

    Call the Fire Brigade?

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge
      Coat

      Surely they should ring the fire brigade...?

      1. Simon Harris

        My Ring account emails me when the battery is low.

        Perhaps it could email the fire station when the battery catches fire... or automatically call 0118 999 881 999 119 725 3.

        1. Aussie Doc Bronze badge
          Flame

          Re:

          Or email: Dear sir or madam...no, that's sounds too formal...

          FIRE! FIRE! FIRE!

          I even typed it in Moss's voice.

  2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

    Curry night!

    To date, Ring has received 85 reports of overheating (and, in some cases, exploding) Ring units in the United States.

    How.. unfortunate. Especially if one is desperate to get into one's house & bathroom in time to prevent ring mishaps.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo

    Not so smart devices

    Maybe consider a re-branding: The Burn Doorbell

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. Warm Braw Silver badge

    If only these devices were connected to some central server...

    ... the owners could be alerted to the danger.

    Alexa: play Ring of Fire...

  5. Peter Mount
    Facepalm

    Shows people don't read the instructions

    I got one of these a couple of months ago, mainly as I'm moving my home office indoors & needed something like this to answer the door (i.e. camera not just a dumb door bell).

    Anyhow, the thing is it had a warning inside the box about this exact problem & not to mix the screws up.

    The security screws (which they provided the appropriate tool) is to attach it to the mounting thats screwed to the wall so it's difficult for someone to nick the door bell.

    The warning clearly stated the overheating problem as the wood screws could "puncture the battery".

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Shows people don't read the instructions

      It's not just door bells, I see this sort of problem all the time, users install something incorrectly, often without reading the instructions, and then blame the problem on the supplier. And the product designers make everything easy to build and install without ever considering that people screw up occasionally because they failed to think about what they were doing. This is just normal these days - everything is "fixed" by releasing an update.

      1. DJV Silver badge

        Re: everything is "fixed" by releasing an update

        Apart from people themselves - if only...

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Press Release - Recall Order

          --PRESS RELEASE--

          Dateline: HEAVEN, 11 Nov 2020.

          Today, God released a product recall order for Homo sapiens sapiens. Units returned to manufacturer will be fitted with essential upgrades, including but not limited to improved spinal column construction, non-shared airway / digestive system entrance, enhanced DNA copy-error protection, reduced cytokine storm pathways, and operant restrictions to false-positive pattern-recognition circuitry.

          "I would like to apologise to all members of My favoured species who feel they may have been adversely affected by previous design decisions," boomed God. "I trust that recipients will be satisfied once they have received the current tranche of product upgrades, which I can assure them have completed thorough beta testing on other planets in My Creation over the last six thousand years."

          --ENDS--

          1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: Press Release - Recall Order

            If only He could do something about the built-in obsolescence.

            1. Rich 11 Silver badge

              Re: Press Release - Recall Order

              That's scheduled for the Cumulative Update for Homo sapiens sapiens Version 20H2. Until then you'll have to make do with the spiritual component of non-obsolescence, which is still only applicable to the first 144,000 Jewish male virgins demonstrating a lifetime's adherence to Levitical law.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Press Release - Recall Order

                Let me guess, you've had your coffee?

                :)

                1. Rich 11 Silver badge

                  Re: Press Release - Recall Order

                  Can't stand the stuff.

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Press Release - Recall Order

            "enhanced DNA copy-error protection,"

            Ah, that explains a LOT about certain people, especially in the US mid-west. Evolution was a design error!

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Shows people don't read the instructions

        "It's not just door bells, I see this sort of problem all the time, users install something incorrectly, often without reading the instructions, and then blame the problem on the supplier."

        If using the wrong screws can mean puncturing the battery, it's a design mistake. The battery shouldn't be in the cross hairs of a user installed screw. It may not be the customer, it could also be the manufacturer in China substituting screws in the hardware pack.

        I'm sure Chinese factories very rarely substitute parts, but it could happen. /S

    2. WonkoTheSane
      Holmes

      Re: Shows people don't read the instructions

      The recall was in America, home of "Contents may be hot" labels on coffee cups.

      It was likely done to head off ambulance-chaser class lawsuits.

      1. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Re: Shows people don't read the instructions

        home of "Contents may be hot" labels on coffee cups

        Congratulations, you bought the slander job that McDonalds (and other large corporations, funded through "Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse") made against a grandmother who suffered genital burns due to maccies serving 90°C coffee in a flexible cup and denying all responsibility.

        She just wanted $20k to cover her medical costs; McDonalds only offered $800. The jury decided McDonalds were so reckless with their practices that they wanted to award her $2.9 million, and she settled for $600k.

        The lawsuit ultimately made McDonalds use a more sturdy and rigid cup, which has saved more people from being burned unnecessarily to make McDonalds 0.5c more profit per coffee.

        1. Jason Bloomberg

          Re: Shows people don't read the instructions

          +1

          This wasn't a case about Americans (or anyone else) being so stupid that they didn't understand coffee can be hot. What McDonald's were selling was so much hotter than would ever have been expected, dangerously hot and injurious when spilled.

          Like pop-tarts and toasties; "hot" does not cut it when "danger of scalding injuries" is appropriate.

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Shows people don't read the instructions

            The lady must have had a really old car. Anything built in the last couple of decades has cup holders all over the place. It's a really big selling point in the US to have the most cup holders.

        2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: Shows people don't read the instructions

          So she didn't notice it was very hot, and didn't notice that the cup she was holding was very flexible, and she still placed it between her thighs? She can't put all the blame on McDo, and the payout was ludicrous.

          1. John Robson Silver badge

            Re: Shows people don't read the instructions

            "the payout was ludicrous"

            From the very brief summary of the story above - the payout was decided by a jury, not asked for by the lady in question (or her lawyers).

            Welcome to the USian litigation system (i nearly typed justice there for some reason).

            I wonder what she (or more likely her lawyers) did with the additional $$$?

            Wikipedia actually has a decent article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liebeck_v._McDonald%27s_Restaurants

            Which states that the spill was when she was, in a parked car, attempting to remove the lid to add cream and sugar. Not an unreasonable thing to attempt to do IMHO.

            "Other documents obtained from McDonald's showed that from 1982 to 1992 the company had received more than 700 reports of people burned by McDonald's coffee to varying degrees of severity, and had settled claims arising from scalding injuries for more than $500,000."

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Shows people don't read the instructions

            She will have noticed it was hot, yes....but people when buying a coffee don't expect it to be hot enough to cause third-degree burns. Most coffee places serve their coffee at a lower temperature...McDonalds served theirs at a much higher temperature than the typical coffee drinker would expect...which was the crux of the lawsuit. It wasn't that it was 'hot', it's that it was way hotter than anybody would reasonably expect, and you weren't warned about that fact.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Shows people don't read the instructions

              It wasn't that it was 'hot', it's that it was way hotter than anybody would reasonably expect, and you weren't warned about that fact.

              It's sold as a "hot" drink, the purchaser has some responsibility to find out how hot before doing anything with it.

              1. DammEstrella

                Re: Shows people don't read the instructions

                There used to be a websit based on the Macdonalds coffee saga

                Google True Stella Awards - it'll give all the info on this - and other ridiculous cases.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Shows people don't read the instructions

              Interesting that the people downvoting seem to think that this is pure conjecture. It's not - this is actually what the courts ruled and why McDonalds lost...the court decided that they were selling coffee at a far higher temperature than anybody would reasonably expect, and there was insufficient warning about this.

        3. dajames Silver badge

          Re: Shows people don't read the instructions

          The lawsuit ultimately made McDonalds use a more sturdy and rigid cup, which has ...

          ... increased the amount of waste they pour into the environment ever since.

    3. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Shows people don't read the instructions

      But did it warn about the lack of privacy and security?

    4. Richard 22

      Re: Shows people don't read the instructions

      Since the response from Ring was to ensure that people have the updated instructions, presumably the original instructions didn't specifically warn about this.

      1. abcdgoldfish

        Re: Shows people don't read the instructions

        They didn't originally contain a warning, although it was pretty clear about which screws were which and you'd have to go to some effort to stick the doorbell up with alternate screws and use the wood screws instead of security screws.

        Ring did send out a warning email in the middle of August. I'm guessing the recall affects any "in channel" that haven't already had updated instructions?

    5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Shows people don't read the instructions

      So Amazon did test the things, saw the issue and provided a warning, yet people still installed it wrong.

      I was all ready to blame Amazon for not having tested, but it would seem that it's more the idiots who don't pay attention that should be blamed.

      I don't know how clear the instructions were, but if I open an electrical appliance and there is a clear warning sign about something, I read it. The warning telling me about being careful with the screws means I'll pay more attention to the instructions.

    6. Cuddles Silver badge

      Re: Shows people don't read the instructions

      This is precisely why the concept of "fail safe" exists. It's all very well to say people should read the instructions, but in the real world you know perfectly well that a significant number of people won't. Given that unavoidable fact, good practice is to come up with a design that won't explode and injure people if they make a mistake, especially if it's such an obvious mistake as "there are two kinds of screws and someone might mix them up".

      For something like this, the best design would ensure that such mistakes can't even be made at all - ideally by just using the same screws everywhere, but if that can't be done then something like using different sizes so the wrong screw physically can't fit. But if you can't manage that, the absolute minimum would be making sure that using the wrong screw doesn't take someone's arm off and burn their house down. That might be a failure on a part of the customer for not following the instructions properly, but it's a much bigger failure on the part of the whole design and QA process in releasing a product that can do that in the first place.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Shows people don't read the instructions

        The instructions presumably also don't say "don't stick the woodscrews up your nose", I hope this can be rectified before more nasal impalement injuries occur

      2. DammEstrella
        Facepalm

        Re: Shows people don't read the instructions

        The easiest option it to make it impossible to sell anything sharp to fuckwits. If they can't tell the difference between a woodscrew (sharp pointy spirally thing) and a machine screw (blunt spirally thing) they they really shouldn't be allowed anything sharper than a crayon.

        I'd also like to see the stats on oh many Ring doorbells fell off doorframes/walls etc due to the inability of a machine screw to cut a thread (and yes - they do cut threads in rawlplugs too)

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Shows people don't read the instructions

          "The easiest option it to make it impossible to sell anything sharp to fuckwits. If they can't tell the difference between a woodscrew (sharp pointy spirally thing) and a machine screw (blunt spirally thing) they they really shouldn't be allowed anything sharper than a crayon.

          I worked at an aerospace company and remember an intern who was going for an aerospace degree that didn't know what standard screw callouts were. He dropped a screw that shifted dimensions and told him is was a #4-40 x 1/4" pan head phillips machine screw and were in the drawers on my workbench. You'd think I was speaking Russian from the look I got back. He was probably really good at FEA, but no hands on experience.

          A regular person may also have dropped a screw and found one in their jar that was just slightly longer and figured it would work. The hardware kit could have been short a screw or they could be wrong in the first place.

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Shows people don't read the instructions

        "a much bigger failure on the part of the whole design and QA process in releasing a product that can do that in the first place."

        It's not possible to warn against everything. Otherwise all power tools would have to come with a 2Kg book of warnings. And even then, some idiot would find some way to injure themselves or others that wasn't in the warnings manual.

        1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge
          Alert

          Don't drop it on your foot

          There'd have to be another warning manual about the dangers of the first warning manual.

          Warning: warning manual is heavy and may cause personal injury or injury to another if dropping on any part of the body.

          Warning: warning manual may ignite if exposed to naked flames or incandescent heat sources.

          Warning: do not ingest part or all of the warning manual.

          Etc. etc. ad nauseum.

          The risk is that manual grows so large it needs another manual to warn about the dangers of the warning manual's warning manual. Infinite recursion.

          And now my head hurts. Shouldn't have dropped that 15th tier warning manual warning manual on it, I suppose.

          1. Col_Panek

            Re: Don't drop it on your foot

            Warning: this manual has been determined to cause cancer in the State of California. Anywhere else, you're fine.

    7. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Shows people don't read the instructions

      That sounds more like they new ab out the problems a long time ago and the more recent ones come with the updated instructions they are advising their US customers to download, not that those have always been the instructions. On the other hand, I would imagine the original instructions already told people which screws to use where, otherwise the security screws would not do their job properly and people were not warned of the consequences of not following the instructions.

    8. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Shows people don't read the instructions

      The CD-Writer installed by the user with 1" woodscrews (Countersunk).

  6. Simon Harris
    Joke

    Custom ring tone.

    Sometimes Ring release seasonal custom ring tones.

    Nee Naw Nee Naw Nee Naw...

    “Cool! Is that a custom ring tone?”

    “No, it’s a fire engine - the doorbell’s caught fire”

  7. Chris G Silver badge

    I screwed into a burning ring of fire

    I am trying to imagine how it's possible to fit the thing by using wood screws to attach the bracket and then try to get the mounting screws to bite into a door frame.

    I assume the wood screws are too long and penetrate the casing and battery but in any case it seems like a design fail combined with the application of Darwinism.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Natalie Gritpants Jr Silver badge

      Re: I screwed into a burning ring of fire

      If you're the type that doesn't read instructions or notice that half the screws are not wood screws you are likely to be using a Birmingham screwdriver.

      1. macjules Silver badge

        Re: I screwed into a burning ring of fire

        I thought Spaghetti Junction was the Birmingham Screwdriver. Certainly screws everything up for me when I drive through it.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Brilliant, the spy on your door that blows up

    I guess this is only for those that are not connected to the new CCTV network operared by the local PLOD.

    As with all other IoT shite, it ain't coming anywhere near my home. If my latest project works well, I'll be able to go off grid (gas and leccy) by next summer. I'll cut the landline then as well.

    1. CrackedNoggin Bronze badge

      Re: Brilliant, the spy on your door that blows up

      If you haven't already you'll enjoy this read in Velo News - "How retired great Sean Yates lives off-the-grid in rural Spain". Just be careful with your gardening before you go!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Brilliant, the spy on your door that blows up

      Try Belize: limited national grid (power comes from Mexico as or if available). Little telecoms so satellite internet a must. Solar power is a must but inverters cost a bloody fortune out there (+£5000 each). Fuel is via butane delivery, provided none of the the bridges have collapsed in the (frequent) flooding.

      Apart from all of that you can be totally off the grid and most of the year it is a fantastic place to live, except for the Americans.

  9. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Whilst I know..

    It's nice to point the finger at the meatsack tasked with nailing the thing to a wall, I can't help but wonder if extra waste and safety could have been done with a simple trick....

    Namely have only set of screws and the security bracket separately (with it's own screws). Seems a relatively easy fix, stops the installer getting all confused and if they didn't buy the bracket and installed it incorrectly anyway then it's not Amazon's fault the installer is being a spanner.

    On the flipside, yes, RTFM can also be applied I suppose.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Whilst I know..

      Or design it to be intrinsically safe to begin with by not having the overdrive area of the screw sitting above a battery.

      1. el_oscuro

        Re: Whilst I know..

        Some years ago, I was installing a sub woofer in my old Camaro. Those suckers are heavy, and you have to mount them securely. Some people used Velcro, but that isn't going to stop it from becoming a 20 pound missile in an accident. Screws are required.

        But the most obvious location is the shelf behind the back seats, but guess what is right under it? The fuel tank of course. I definitely did not want to be driving screws anywhere near the explodey gasoline.

        So yes, keeping sharp things away from explodey bits is a very good design decision.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Whilst I know..

          But was the fuel tank location a failing of Chevrolet by not guessing in advance that some people might want to mount a sub-woofer there or would any death and destruction be the fault of the person installing it for not checking first? :-)

    2. TimMaher Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Whilst I know..

      If “the installer is being a spanner” then it gets even more difficult.

      IKEA anyone?

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Whilst I know..

      "Namely have only set of screws and the security bracket separately (with it's own screws). "

      These are the people who think flatpack furniture never has all the parts or has too many parts.

  10. TRT Silver badge

    I was dead set against these Ring things

    But an exploding door bell... that’s got to be worth it.

    1. Coastal cutie
      Flame

      Re: I was dead set against these Ring things

      Well it would probably be the last time you ever got a visit from Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormon missionaries!

      1. Andy Non Silver badge

        Re: I was dead set against these Ring things

        007, we've got a new doorbell we'd like you to try.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: I was dead set against these Ring things

          *BOOM*

          Hm. The postman doesn't always ring twice.

  11. A. Coatsworth
    Mushroom

    open question

    In the spirit of El Reg naming conventions, shouldn't we start referring to this company as

    Amazon’s home security auto-Big-Brothering brand Ring

    or somesuch?

  12. ThePhantom

    I'm at a loss here, The battery pops out for charging and in theory you should be mounting the device with the battery ejected from the unit. Am i missing something?

    1. abcdgoldfish

      The battery isn't removable - you remove the doorbell to charge.

      The mount screws into the wall using scary sharp 5cm long woodscrews

      The doorbell clips to the top of the mount, and a couple of 1cm long shoulder security "machine" screws (untapered with only a thread on the 0.5cm closest to the head) screw into the bottom of the mount. The unthreaded part of the screw protrudes into the base of the doorbell and stops it being removed. You need to find your security torx every month or so to recharge.

      You'd have to be pretty confused to get it wrong, but clearly people did, and that was a nicely charged battery they were self-tapping into!

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "You need to find your security torx every month or so to recharge."

        That's an inconvenience that outweighs any convenience of having one in the first place. Doorbells need to be install and forget. Or at most, change a battery once every year or three.

  13. fidodogbreath Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    The show must goi on

    It's important to get this fixed so the cops' live real-time surveillance access is not interrupted.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    not surprised

    I've installed a number of these and have to say that the Ring 2 are really crappy devices. While I like the idea behind them of having a battery powered unti when someone didn't have cabling pulled through, so far every one of these things that I've installed loses wifi connectivity for no rhyme or reason. No real reply from ring as to how to fix the issue and I've given up and started pulling them when called.

    I've now been replacing them with the ring pro (yes, I know it needs power run to it, but the reliability outweighs the additional time/cost to pull a cable)...

    will never recommend these things to anyone again...

    1. Andy Non Silver badge

      Re: not surprised

      Someone near us had their ring doorbell stolen. Further irony, there was no footage of the theft.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: not surprised

        signal jammer?

  15. Marty McFly Silver badge
    FAIL

    "What happens if you mix the screws up?"

    That is the indicator the Ring doorbell is too technical for the user.

  16. 9Rune5 Silver badge

    Ideal for my old neighborhood

    I bet those pesky Jehova's witnesses will no longer cast a shadow on your doorstep once they've tangoed with your exploding doorbell.

  17. Winkypop Silver badge
    Flame

    Seems harsh

    One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them,

    One ring to bring them all and in the darkness burn them.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Seems harsh

      Well played!

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Torx security screws?

    I this is a normal torx or standard torx 'security screw' then these are waste of time anyway. I bought my first set of security bits for £30 a couple of decades ago. at that point they were difficult to find for a consumer (I bought mine from a steam fair of all places). I recently bought an updated set which came with a little ratchet handle in a very nice plastic case for £8 in the middle aisle in Aldi. Apart from that the fact that these security bits are now easily available I've yet to find a security screw that can't be defeated by a desperate enough amateur mechanic / engineer even if he doesn't have an appropriate bit. Most can be extracted using an appropriately sized flat head screwdriver, hex or star bit hammered into the opening.

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